Online Video Contest

In mid-June, the pastor of my church, knowing that I work at Tweedee Productions, asked me to help produce a video for a contest sponsored by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  Any ELCA congregation or individual could upload a video showcasing the theme “God’s work. Our hands.” and be eligible to win a $5000 (for a congregation) or $2500 (for an individual) grant.  My pastor thought this would be a great opportunity to spread the word about the garden ministry with the added bonus of potentially winning $5000!  So, we set about the production: had a pre-production meeting to discuss ideas and visions, did a couple hours of shooting on 2 days, used the video and still photos to edit the story together, and uploaded the finished product.  224 videos were entered in the contest.  Two would win (one congregation and one individual), and two would be runners up.  People could go to the website, watch videos, and rate them.  Winners were to be announced at the churchwide assembly in mid-August.  The ELCA used video to generate interest and spark creativity.  People launched voting campaigns to help their video make it into the top 20 with hopes of being the winner.  I admit that I, too, told people about the contest, the video I helped produce, and I asked them to go watch it and rank it.

Now, most people don’t associate church with video or with technological savvy.  But the ELCA recognized that people use sites like YouTube or Facebook to share videos or photos all the time.  So they put out a challenge: tell us about the ministry happening at your church.  They posted their own videos as samples and inspiration.  And congregations around the country met that challenge, creating and sharing videos.  They told their stories using video.

If the ELCA can do it, why can’t you?

(For those of you who are dying to know, the video I produced was the congregational runner-up.)

Amy holding tight

Amy holding tight

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so, how have you been…..

this is the time to take advantage of the economy and jump-start your marketing plan. now is the perfect opportunity to market your business. so how do you reconnect with your clients, reach out to new customers or re-invent your company?

sandy kowal

sandy kowal - out standing in her field.

re-invent: radio shack. i’m sure you’ve seen the ads on tv. radio shack has become the quirky, cool kid you always wished you were. their new campaign “the shack” has given them a drastically different look and feel from the days of  a sports super star holding up a battery. the quirky ads grab your attention and before you know it, you want radio shack to be your personal tech store…. brilliant. from nerd to cool in a matter of seconds.

reach out: mg&e. mg&e has done a series of video stories to keep them in contact with their customers… interesting stories that show their involvement in the community.  like this one about the falcons nesting on their plant downtown. the story doesn’t say “mg&e is great for having this nest on their plant” or that “mg&e loves nature”, but the story leaves you with the feeling that these people at mg&e care.  you feel good about yourself when you are an mg&e customer because mg&e cares about their community.

re-connect: tweedee productions. something we use is a video newsletter. it’s a simple tool that allows us to keep in contact with our current and former clients. it’s kind of a reminder that we’re still around doing good work. we try not to blow own horn in the VNL, but instead we try to pass along information that our clients can use. we hope it plants the seeds of creativity and imagination with our clients – to spur them along to try a VNL themselves or to see how our other clients are using video storytelling effectively. one of the great aspects to the VNL is our clients get to see our personalities & experience the fun of  tweedee productions.  look for info in the next tweedeenews about social networking.

communication. sometimes marketing is as simple as just stepping up your communication with your clients. how can you use today’s technology to have regular, focused communications? how can you get your message out? what can you do to remind clients you are still around? what is the right direction for your company? what is social marketing? does it work? in the blur of the fast changing information highway we’re here to help you find your focus and craft your story to hit your target.

On Balance.

Life is good again. In the words of those musical maidens of the ’80’s, “Vacation…had to get away.” Sometimes, you just have to step back from the table before you get too full. It helps the food taste better the next time. I won’t bore you with the details of “what I did on my summer vacation.” But, I do want to talk about how something as simple as a little time away makes us all better.

My Grandpa Presser always used to say, “everything in moderation.” It’s a good philosophy… even if he didn’t always practice what he preached. Just ask my older siblings about the time he was hanging out of the car window singing “The Whippenpoof Song” after a particularly sozzled night at a Milwaukee Braves game. Sometimes, balance loses out to excess – at work and play. Although, I think even his occasional over-indulgence balanced out the pressures and stress of the “daily grind.” (We humans can rationalize anything.)

You’re probably wondering what my point is, right? (One of these days I’m going to try that writing method my friend Steve blogged about.) What I’m saying is that sometimes the best thing we can do for our clients is take a vacation. It helps restore balance, recharge the batteries, and make us hungry again. The creative juices begin flowing better and everything seems easier to handle. Steve says, “if the best ideas happen in the shower, a vacation is like a seven day soak.” I like that. Time to towel-off and get back to the glorious excesses of Tweedee Productions. I think I’ll start with the peanut-butter pretzels in the break room.

Dan in a happy place.

Dan in a happy place.

Chopsticks

I’ve been wondering about something lately.  Help me out here.  Why is it that when the characters on a TV show order out Chinese food, invariably ALL of the characters eat with chopsticks?  Why is that?  It’s pervasive – the prosecutors on Law and Order, the cops on Saving Grace, Jamie Kennedy on The Ghost Whisperer (watch for the “that’s what she said” moment).  THEY ALL KNOW HOW TO EAT WITH CHOP STICKS!  I don’t.  I love Chinese food – just had some delicious egg foo yong on Friday night.  But, I refuse to use chopsticks.  Why?  I think it’s phony.  It’s being pseudo-cultural, a poser.  Do non-Chinese people who use chopsticks to eat Chinese food use them to eat Italian food?  Why not?  Chinese people probably do.

So, I’m thinking that there must be TV characters who, like me, do not use them.  Just once I’d like to see some cop on CSI Miami shoveling down some moo shoo pork with a fork

Here’s another annoying, unrealistic plot convenience technique used by TV shows, especially on the CBS show Numb3rs.  Sometime notice how characters simply show up unannounced at someone’s office or home, usually just to have a two minute conversation.  Hello!  Ever thought about using a cell phone instead?  Imagine if we all did that how much time and gas we’d waste.

I don’t really have a point in all of this other to say that I notice things, usually the quirky things in life.  Besides, it’s my turn to blog and I can blog about anything.

This clip isn’t about eating utensils, but it has Marilyn Monroe in it.  She plays chopsticks.  Funny what you find when you look.

Gregg and his new car.

Gregg and his new car.

Working Creative Backwards

I once asked a very eloquent friend, “What is your process in writing?”

He told me, “I write down what I want the reader to experience or learn inside a circle. Then I play a bit of word association. I write a feeling or object that’s closely related to that idea and draw a circle around it and connect the circles with a line directly to my main theme,” his fingers drew circles and lines in the air, “When I run out of words that associate directly to that word, I start associating words with those other words. It goes on for as long as I want it. Soon, I have a large molecule-looking object with words all over the page. Sometimes the paper is a small eight and a half by eleven. Sometimes it’s two pieces of poster board. No matter what size, it becomes the language and concepts of what I’m trying to achieve.” He told me this after I read his piece about Jim Bakker’s book “I Was Wrong”. Great title. Very funny cover (photographer: “OK, Reverend Bakker–Gimme very, very sorry. Yesssss. Nicccce.”).

I’ve written a few things in my day (my book is available on Amazon.com and fine local retailers) and I’m not sure if I agree. Work sometimes evolves and grows. Then there’s deadlines. You and I aren’t full time authors. We work in the client business and have to get things done by a certain day and time. But my friend’s literary corner-cutting strategy helps develop your concept quickly and helps write copy. It helps develop ideas. It helps create the language you will use.

His process got me to wonder, what other creative techniques can we provide clients and agencies to develop ideas? The video business can be technical and sometimes overwhelming. There are times when producers hand me projects and tell me to “work my magic” as an editor. I enjoy the ability to ‘spread my wings’ on a project.

But, as a producer, have you taken the time to ask a shooter or editor what kind of toolboxes we have? We tout the ability for Hi Def and creating beautiful visuals that are crisp and clean. Our toolbox of toys can sometimes get the juices flowin’.

For example, after messing around with some things, I came up with our concept of the ‘talking machines’ short film. This features motion tracking from the Avid. When I learned about motion tracking, I thought it was give a very real element to an idea that I was developing. If I used lock down shots it would have looked completely staged. The motion tracking gave it a very real, hand-held look that I needed to sell it.

Knowing a game plan on how it was being edited helped cut down on shoot time and edit time. That project took a lot less than what you might think.

Call Tweedee Productions today to help brainstorm creative visual with our toolboxes of shooting and editing gear. Sometimes working backwards can be efficient and economical!

Steve Donovan, Senior Editor & Janitor

Steve Donovan, Senior Editor & Janitor